[b-hebrew] yhwh pronunciation

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Jul 20 10:28:55 EDT 2005

Dear Peter,

See my comments below.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
To: "Read, James C" <K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk>
Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 1:37 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] yhwh pronunciation

> On 20/07/2005 11:41, Read, James C wrote:
>>Sorry for the mess up before. That's what happens when you join a
>>discussion from memory without checking the grammar first.
>>However, while you are quite right that a regular verb would be
>>bisyllabic I'm sure you are all aware that regular roots are few
>>and far between. And that the root hwh is anything but regular.
>>Plus the general conception that this is a causative form. To the
>>best of my knowledge pe guttural hiphils and hophals are trisyllabic.
>>The evidence from the ancient names of a second long vowel o/u is
> We have discussed this on the list before, and I think we have come to
> the conclusion that for the root HWH, according to the normal rules for
> weak verbs, both the Qal 3rd person "imperfect" and the Hiphil 3rd
> person "imperfect" would most probably have the form YAHWEH, i.e.
> identical to the reconstructed form of the divine name. The Qal might
> also be YIHWEH as the "imperfect" of roots with initial he is somewhat
> variable, cf. YIHYEH from HYH.

I do not know who the "we" are that you mention in your second clause. But 
the word cannot include all the members of the list.  I see no reason why 
YHWH should not be a verb, but at the same time, I see no reason why it 
should be. The following reasons speak against your Yahweh interpretation.

1) The verb HWH is Aramaic and occurs only four times in the Hebrew text of 
the Tanakh.
2) The word-play in Exodus 3:14,15 is between HYH and YHWH. If YHWH comes 
from the verb HWH why not use this form in the word-play?
3) There is no Hiphil form of the static verbs HYH or HWH.
4) If YHWH comes from HWH, and this is a name that God is supposed to have 
given himself, why is the third person singluar and not the first person 
used, as in the case of Ehye?
5) If the name is Hiphil, 3rd person singular, YIQTOL the form would be 
YAHWE, as you say. But the only evidence we have (as shown in my previous 
post) is that the name had three syllables, and that the first two were 

> Note that these forms are both bisyllabic. There is no reason to expect
> a trisyllabic form here, except that the he might take a very short
> hataf vowel e.g. YAHWEH might become YAHaWEH with the small a indicating
> a very short hataf patah. But there is no way that a long o vowel would
> be found in this position.

Because we do not know the correct pronunciation of YHWH, I do not exclude 
the pronunciation Yahweh. But I must again say that there is no Hebrew or 
Aramic evidence in favor of this pronunciation. There is some evidence, 
however, namely the thophoric names beginning with YEHO. We have no clues as 
to the vowel of the third syllable, but this evidence suggests shewa and 
holem as the first two vowels.
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
Best regards

Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo 

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